Teaching Dharma - Why?

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1 month 1 week ago #116920 by Chris Marti
Replied by Chris Marti on topic Teaching Dharma - Why?
Yep, that same principle applies to groups of all sorts. Diversity is really powerful. And yet so disdained by so many.

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1 month 1 day ago #117113 by SigmaTropic
Replied by SigmaTropic on topic Teaching Dharma - Why?
Compassion

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1 month 9 hours ago - 1 month 9 hours ago #117120 by Shargrol
Replied by Shargrol on topic Teaching Dharma - Why?
Compassion in teaching dharma is tricky.

There isn't a letting go of somatic tension, emotional dramas, and social identities unless the body-mind experiences that they simply don't work, that they cause suffering. And often this can't simply be intellectual understanding, it has to be a visceral and direct experience of the suffering of somatic tensions, reactive patterns,  and overly-defended identities. 

So it's a bit paradoxical. Relieving suffering might involve allowing, encouraging, or even setting up a situation for acute conscious suffering. And conversely, sometimes reducing the short-term suffering of others will cheat those others out of their own growth/development/insights. 

So while it's true that buddha's teaching leads to the end of suffering, it might be that the path involves a whole lot of suffering. High-quality suffering instead repetitive low-quality suffering.

"Reliving the suffering of others" can be an odd kind of addiction that spiritual teachers get. There are many ways to relieve suffering and most of them are short-term fixes. Socialness, entertainment, feeding the intellect... all of these provide temporary relief, but don't really lead to change. And if this is the nature of the teacher-student relationship, these teachers will get a reputation and they will attract more and more students who want to give their power over suffering to the teacher... leading to the classic cult co-dependency problem that has happened a million times before.

And it can also go the other way, with a punitive and punishing cult leader that thinks "the more I make them suffering, the more they will awaken" which doesn't work either. That just creates the mirror-image cult co-dependency where people are re-enacting their old traumas and attachments to neglectful and abusive caregivers/authority. 

I think the word that is closer is "caring". You need to care, care so much that you nurture the students own insights and independence from the teacher. If the student becomes more dependent, that's the sign that there has been superficial compassion. 
Last edit: 1 month 9 hours ago by Shargrol.

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1 month 7 hours ago #117123 by SigmaTropic
Replied by SigmaTropic on topic Teaching Dharma - Why?
Just curious - why is there so much negativity in this thread directed at teachers and the teaching dynamic? Not once in this entire thread has anyone suggested that maybe people actually teach from a place of non self and not just for their own ego? This thread is depressing honestly and quite sad. 

It's like every perspective given in this thread is focused on what teaching does for the person teaching. 

Can we consider the possibility that people who are drawn to teach and the conditions make a way for them to do so, what about wholesome motivations? Does anyone have anything to say about that? Or are all teachers just egomaniacs who only want to control people? 

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1 month 5 hours ago - 1 month 5 hours ago #117124 by Chris Marti
Replied by Chris Marti on topic Teaching Dharma - Why?
Experience with teachers might explain it. We’re all human beings. The student-teacher relationship is as complex as any other, and probably more so.
Last edit: 1 month 5 hours ago by Chris Marti.

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1 month 4 hours ago #117126 by Chris Marti
Replied by Chris Marti on topic Teaching Dharma - Why?
Sam, it occurs to me upon re-reading your comment that you may have taken this thread personally. Is that at all accurate, even the slightest bit?

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1 month 4 hours ago #117127 by Shargrol
Replied by Shargrol on topic Teaching Dharma - Why?

SigmaTropic wrote: It's like every perspective given in this thread is focused on what teaching does for the person teaching. 

Can we consider the possibility that people who are drawn to teach and the conditions make a way for them to do so, what about wholesome motivations? Does anyone have anything to say about that? Or are all teachers just egomaniacs who only want to control people? 


Hmm, that's a very opposite reading of most of what I've commented on... my own perception is that I'm de-emphasizing the teacher and I'm commenting on how good teaching benefits the student. Is there a disconnect that I'm not aware of?

Perhaps you are responding to how I am pointing out the dangerous territory of why teachers are dawn to be teachers? If so, I accept that. I am definitely commenting about that. If you look at the world of dharma teachers, it is clear that there are many shadow motivations that teacher have --- in addition to their wholesome motivations --- and many do wind up wanting to control people or to use people for their own ego gratification. Sad but unfortunately common.

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1 month 4 hours ago - 1 month 4 hours ago #117128 by Shargrol
Replied by Shargrol on topic Teaching Dharma - Why?
Pure coincidence, I just surfed over there, I haven't even read it all...  brad warner on teaching   Okay, I read it. Not bad.
Last edit: 1 month 4 hours ago by Shargrol.

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4 weeks 2 days ago #117129 by Dusko
Replied by Dusko on topic Teaching Dharma - Why?

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4 weeks 2 days ago - 4 weeks 2 days ago #117130 by SigmaTropic
Replied by SigmaTropic on topic Teaching Dharma - Why?
Chris - No, not taking anything personally. 
Last edit: 4 weeks 2 days ago by SigmaTropic.

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4 weeks 2 days ago #117132 by Ona Kiser
Replied by Ona Kiser on topic Teaching Dharma - Why?
I do think that 'pragmatic dharma' does tend to come with some broad assumptions and preferences, such as independence, a slightly anti-authoritarian streak, non-traditional morality, an emphasis on self-discovery and flexibility in practices, a dislike of fixed systems of practice, a heavily male participant group and so on. 

I've personally worked formally with a variety of teachers in various traditions and found it generally:
temporarily helpful, but
really unhelpful once the problem I needed to solve is solved. 

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4 weeks 2 days ago #117134 by Ona Kiser
Replied by Ona Kiser on topic Teaching Dharma - Why?
Just to say Sam's perception of the low-enthusiasm in many replies in contrast with his own high-enthusiasm is on target. It seems quite clear to me, and if I were him I might be a bit bummed that so few if any seem excited about teaching. 

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4 weeks 2 days ago #117135 by Chris Marti
Replied by Chris Marti on topic Teaching Dharma - Why?
Enthusiasm is a wonderful thing. Introspection over one's motivation to teach is also a wonderful thing. I can recall being very fired up to teach soon after a certain rubicon was crossed. Like Sam, I was not just given permission but was encouraged to pursue dharma teaching, Yet the motivation was for me to be seen as  the "teacher." I've mentioned this many times here on AN and on DhO - I'm not constitutionally suited for the role of dharma teacher. Neither have I ever had the time to do it properly between family and career. I'm very happy not to have taken up teaching. 

I believe becoming a dharma teacher deserves a lot of consultation, introspection, and even some serious training.

JMHO, of course.

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4 weeks 1 day ago #117150 by Ona Kiser
Replied by Ona Kiser on topic Teaching Dharma - Why?
I wanted to elaborate on my previous comment, which was written on my phone. Now that I'm back on my laptop I get wordy. ;)

So my experience with teachers would, I think, include reference to teachers/trainers of things like sports or music - where you meet regularly over long periods of time to try to reach a particular goal.

So I've found that there are certain problems I seek teaching for. For instance wanting to learn to sing with very good classical technique. Or wanting to learn to train my horse for carriage driving competitions. Or wanting to wake up. Or wanting to learn more about a ritual system or spiritual practice methodology.

In those cases I usually ended the relationship once I had learned the thing enough to either be satisfied or to realize it wasn't what I was really looking for. In any case, those teachers usually had a particular method or style that only suited the original desired outcome, so when my needs changed the relationship no longer worked (even if some kind of ongoing casual friendship was maintained; but in some cases my change of needs or interests was annoying to the teacher and the relationship ended. I have not had it happen (yet) that the teacher is the one who comes up with a whole new approach in the middle of our work together and then I quit because it no longer serves the purpose I had in mind. I do know some who have come up with whole new approaches, but it was after we were no longer working together.

There is another kind of thing I have sought teaching for, or at least sought some kind of spiritual accompaniment for, which is the desire to share the things going on in my life with someone who finds them interesting and who doesn't think I'm nuts. Sometimes spiritual practice takes you in unexpected directions, and you might feel reassured by hearing someone else say "Oh yeah, me, too! Don't worry about that! Totally normal!"  Sometimes you can get that same reassurance from daily life events, a good book, a podcast or whatever. But it can feel really nice to have a friend walking with you through the swamp-fog.

It can also turn into a rather dysfunctional neediness. I had often desired this from my teachers/mentors, and sometimes it was available but often it wasn't, because the teacher saw the relationship as a more professional accompaniment (and had other students/mentees), and since vast numbers of them often just wanted someone to hear them and be their friend, there was no actual time in the day to attend to so much neediness. In these contexts the results can go in several directions: one is that the needy student gets tired of not being paid enough attention to and goes to find attention somewhere else; another is that the teacher makes extra time for particular needy students that he/she finds special and interesting, and a sort of weird clingy relationship develops between them, which is likely to end messily; the relationship doesn't have to be romantic at all to have this dysfunctional current develop, but if the student and teacher both have poor self-discipline around romantic relationships it's likely to end even more messily.

I think in these cases of desiring a kind of spiritual friendship or reassurance the thing that is most learned (hopefully) is a greater self-awareness of your own defects, including your loneliness, neediness, desire for recognition or all the other myriad things a given person may be acting out in the context.

From the side of having taught spiritual stuff for some time (and in other contexts I have taught things like violin, singing, and English), the sincere people who wanted to work with me largely figured stuff out for themselves and moved on. I mostly served to reassure them that everything was fine and give them occasional suggestions for things to investigate. 

The very dysfunctional ones who spent most of their sessions telling strange stories about imaginary experiences or problems eventually dropped out and wandered off. I hope they have found some better help than my useless nod and smile. There honestly were some 'students' who really needed therapy, rehab, or exorcism. I was not remotely equipped to evaluate their mental state. 

I am much more confident these days in the power of prayer - if I run into someone who seems to need help or who asks for help I either give them the money they need or ask Our Lady to intercede for them and add them to my rosary intentions. She knows far better than I what they actually need. 

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4 weeks 1 day ago #117151 by Shargrol
Replied by Shargrol on topic Teaching Dharma - Why?
Wordy is good! :)

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3 weeks 3 days ago #117245 by Chris Marti
Replied by Chris Marti on topic Teaching Dharma - Why?
There is a vast difference between knowing process and being awake.

Anyone disagree?

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3 weeks 3 days ago - 3 weeks 3 days ago #117247 by Dusko
Replied by Dusko on topic Teaching Dharma - Why?
Can there not be being awake within knowing the process? 
Last edit: 3 weeks 3 days ago by Dusko.

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3 weeks 3 days ago #117248 by Ona Kiser
Replied by Ona Kiser on topic Teaching Dharma - Why?
Do you mean can people wake up or be awake without knowing anything about practices or methods or traditions or technical vocabulary?

Of course. 

I've been pondering lately the difference (or lack thereof) between being awake and being holy. They aren't really completely related, though they seem to be partially related. I'm thinking that 'being awake' isn't enough to count for being holy. But being holy generally includes some things that would be considered relevant to awakening, such as a sort of 'not fooling yourself', a clarity/honesty around being human, and maybe some other stuff. 

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3 weeks 3 days ago #117250 by Chris Marti
Replied by Chris Marti on topic Teaching Dharma - Why?
Yes Ona, I’m saying that. I’m also saying people confuse process proficiency with being awake. You’re right - these things surely overlap but they’re definitely not the same.

Dusko, does that help with your question?

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3 weeks 2 days ago #117252 by Kalle Ylitalo
There's a wonderful saying about this, which is something like "confusing the finger pointing at the moon with the moon." This seems to be a phase in practice which is often discussed in Dzogchen (and perhaps Mahamudra) literature. One has to let go of the all the conceptual tools used in meditation practice at an appropriate point in ones practice. Otherwise they become an obstacle to refining the awakened view.

I have a tendency to get clingy with the process side. I get so excited about techniques I like, which starts a process of reaping the benefits of that technique and eventually cultivating a not-so-attached relationship to the technique.

Ken Wilber talks about waking up and growing up as separate processes. I feel like working on the growing up -side has helped me know the difference between waking up and process proficiency, among other things.

What do you think being awake means? I'm not sure myself. I like descriptions like boundless awareness and spontaneous presence. I can try to expand on this later.

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3 weeks 2 days ago - 3 weeks 2 days ago #117254 by Dusko
Replied by Dusko on topic Teaching Dharma - Why?
“Process proficiency” is but DO unfolding. Call it karma. Falling for it as being the be all end all of anything is ignorance. However when such momentary experience is unfolding in profound engagement with it, there is another conscious experience taking place which we call “being awake”. This however is also an experience. Also not permanent, not self, not satisfactory (to hold onto to). 

I see all this as a huge failure. No matter what we do we can’t get out of our own momentary (conscious) experience. Being Awake included. 
Well, failure might be taken as a heavy word by you US people :D 
I take it to mean “relief” as in “I can stop trying to win this fight”. Just be, take the hit, fall off the horse, get back on the horse, remain laying in the ground … all good. Or bad. Or whatever. 

My views are subject to change. 
Last edit: 3 weeks 2 days ago by Dusko.

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3 weeks 2 days ago - 3 weeks 2 days ago #117259 by Chris Marti
Replied by Chris Marti on topic Teaching Dharma - Why?
You need to know what it is and how it works.

:)
Last edit: 3 weeks 2 days ago by Chris Marti.

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3 weeks 2 days ago #117260 by Kacchapa
Replied by Kacchapa on topic Teaching Dharma - Why?

Chris Marti wrote: ... I’m also saying people confuse process proficiency with being awake. You’re right - these things surely overlap but they’re definitely not the same.
....


Chris, is attaining 4th path an example of what you mean by process proficiency?  

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3 weeks 2 days ago #117262 by Chris Marti
Replied by Chris Marti on topic Teaching Dharma - Why?

Chris, is attaining 4th path an example of what you mean by process proficiency?  

Mark, I define process proficiency as being good at meditating using various techniques: vipassana, jhana, etc. I'm trying to draw a contrast between being a proficient meditator vs obtaining the fruits of meditation. These two things overlap, as we've discussed, but they're not the same.

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3 weeks 2 days ago #117263 by Dusko
Replied by Dusko on topic Teaching Dharma - Why?

Chris Marti wrote: You need to know what it is and how it works.

:)


And never know what’s coming next! 
:) 

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